Ray Hyman - Honorary Degree Recipient
October 4, 2007
Ray Hyman, considered one of the world’s leading skeptics, will receive a doctor of science, honoris causa, on Thursday, Oct. 4 at 2:30 p.m.
A professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Oregon, Hyman is an expert in the study of deception and self-deception and has dedicated much of his career to the study of why people come to believe strange things.
“My primary interest is thinking,” says Hyman, who began his career studying how thinking leads to great achievements. “Then I contrasted this with the type of thinking that leads to failure and self-deception.
“My studies were in line with other research in cognitive psychology—that these were not two types of thinking. The same process that produces successful outcomes can also lead to a commitment to false beliefs.”
Hyman, also an accomplished magician, published his first serious critique of parapsychological research 50 years ago and has written extensively on the psychology of deception and paranormal and other fringe claims.
He is currently working on two books: How Smart People Go Wrong: Cognition and Human Error and Parapsychology’s Achilles’ Heel: Consistent Inconsistency.
He has a long history of investigating psychics and has worked for the U.S. State Defense Department and the U.S. National Research Council.
Hyman is a founder of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP)—an involvement that nurtured a friendship with the late Barry Beyerstein, a well-known SFU psychology professor and fellow skeptic, who passed away in June.
Beyerstein joined Hyman in 1992 to conduct a University of Oregon workshop called the Skeptic’s Toolbox. He continued to participate in Hyman’s annual workshops for the next 15 years.
Hyman retired in 1998 but remains active giving talks, workshops and painstakingly carrying out investigations of paranormal claims.
“My main focus now,” he says, “is on how our brightest and most accomplished people can often be misled into accepting and defending false beliefs.”